Organizational culture is one of the most crucial elements of a business and remains one of the most predictive indicators of a company’s health. It’s a major underlying factor in worker productivity, overall company performance, and employee retention. And if an employee does depart the company, a healthy office culture can turn them into genuine advocates. It’s also one of the most important criteria for job applicants when deciding where to take their talent.
Fostering an organizational culture that lasts is already no easy feat, but coupled with nearly all companies working from home for the foreseeable future, the difficulties only compound. The usual techniques HR departments use to drum up culture and morale—employee outings, friendly contests, team-building exercises—either are impossible to execute in our isolated workplace, or when translated to a telework environment, lose a significant amount of their impact. Unlike other company operations, there isn’t a handy app or easy software that can automate culture.
Despite this, there are still ways to preserve and even strengthen your office’s organizational culture during this difficult time.
Create A Virtual Water Cooler
Whether it’s a designated break room or an actual water cooler, traditional work environments have physical spaces where employees can chat, mingle, and take a quick breather from the workday. For remote work, it’s important to establish virtual spaces that serve this same purpose. Depending on your company and the communication channels you use, that could be a regularly scheduled Zoom call that anyone can join to chat, or a separate Slack channel designated for freetalk. Whatever it is, creating that space helps employees feel comfortable and relaxed while furthering the company’s culture as a whole.
Bring Back the Icebreakers
With the exception of a new employee joining the team, typically offices don’t need the usual icebreaker exercises. Team members tend to get to know each other organically throughout the workday, whether it’s by sitting in the same cubicle section or talking in the break room. Unfortunately, working from home doesn’t offer these same points of interaction. Instead, consider weaving in icebreakers and fun getting-to-know-you questions into the remote workday. For example, daily check-ins could start or end with a question about favorite movies, TV shows, or food.
Get the Most Out of Video Conferencing
While it’s obviously not the same as face-to-face interaction, video conferencing is about the closest we can get to simulating the real office. Now is the most opportune time to build office camaraderie and strengthen company culture. Already, workers have been having fun with Zoom’s virtual background feature, with some businesses even holding friendly competitions to see who can get the most creative. Others have turned to costume contests, virtual happy hours and pet show-and-tells. Whatever it is, consider some sort of fun activity your team can do to get the most out of the daily facetime.